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WPBA, virtual channel 30 (UHF digital channel 21), is a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) member television station licensed to Atlanta, Georgia, United States. Owned by Atlanta Public Schools, it is a sister outlet to National Public Radio (NPR) member station WABE (90.1 FM) and local educational access cable service APS Cable Channel 22. WPBA and WABE share studios on Bismark Road in the Morningside/Lenox Park neighborhood of Atlanta; WPBA's transmitter is located on New Street Northeast (south of DeKalb Avenue) in the city's Edgewood neighborhood. On cable, the station is available on Comcast Xfinity and Google Fiber channel 16, and AT&T U-verse channel 30; there is a high definition feed available on Xfinity digital channel and AT&T U-verse channel 1030.

WPBA is the only full-powered public television station in the state of Georgia that is licensed to a public educational institution or district, and the only educational television station in Georgia that is not operated as part of the Georgia Public Broadcasting PBS statewide member network.

History[]

The station first signed on the air as WETV (standing for "Educational Television") on February 17, 1958; it was the first educational television station to sign on in Georgia. WETV originally served as a member station of the National Educational Television and Radio Center (NETRC), which evolved into National Educational Television (NET) in 1963. During its first fourteen years of operation, channel 30 maintained a 20-hour weekly schedule of instructional programming, broadcasting only on Monday through Friday afternoons from August through May; much of the station's programming in its early years consisted of video telecourse lectures televised in cooperation with the Georgia Board of Education, which offered course subjects attributable for college credit. Programming from NET aired on WETV year-round during prime time for three hours each Monday through Friday (from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m.). The station gained a competing public television outlet, when the University of Georgia signed on Athens-licensed WGTV (channel 8) on May 23, 1960; as a result, WGTV took precedence as Atlanta's primary PBS station with WETV becoming the service's secondary market outlet.

On October 5, 1970, WETV and WGTV – which became the flagship of the Georgia Educational Television state network (now Georgia Public Broadcasting [GPB]), after the University of Georgia merged the latter into the Georgia Board of Education's four-station statewide programming service five years prior – became member stations of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), which was launched as an independent entity to supersede and assume many of the functions of the predecessor NET network. On May 10, 1984, Atlanta Public Schools changed the station's call letters to WPBA (standing for "Public Broadcasting Atlanta"). (The WETV call letters are currently used by a low-power television station in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.)

On September 6, 1999, WPBA assumed time-lease rights to Atlanta Public Schools' APS Cable channel (which is carried on Comcast channel 22 in metropolitan Atlanta), which began carrying programming from the upstart PBS Kids Channel each night from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m., with instructional programming acquired by the school district continuing to air during the daytime hours.

In 2005, WPBA heavily reduced its PBS program offerings after Atlanta Public Schools and station management decided to make channel 30 a participant in the service's Program Differentiation Plan; this came amid frequent complaints that WPBA and the Georgia Public Broadcasting television service had redundant programming that regularly caused viewer confusion. (Although there is duplication of programs distributed via the PBS national feed on both WPBA and Georgia Public Broadcasting, neither station simulcasts any content from the service.) As a result, the station began to carry only 25% of the programming broadcast by PBS' national feed, whilst giving GPB right of first refusal rights and even exclusive access to any new programs carried by PBS. To make up for the reduced lineup of PBS shows, WPBA also expanded its reliance on syndicated programs from American Public Television and other distributors as well as locally produced news and public affairs programs. At that time, the station changed its on-air branding to "PBA 30".

On July 23, 2018, WPBA discontinued the "PBA 30" branding after ten years and changed its moniker to "ATL PBA," removing references to its over-the-air virtual channel. The following day (July 24), Atlanta Public Schools reached an agreement with PBS to convert WPBA into a full-service member outlet in order to better compete with Georgia Public Broadcasting and its flagship WGTV for viewers, public and private monetary contributions and corporate programming underwriters. The move, which will allow WPBA to carry any content supplied by the service, will result in a roughly $500,000 increase in programming expenditures; however, the station does not plan to simulcast programming with the GPB state network and will inform GPB of its scheduling decisions, which may also result in some shows added to the lineup airing on as little as a 24-hour delay. The station plans to keep its Monday and Friday lineups – which primarily rely on British programming – unchanged, and expand local program production.

TV stations in Georgia
GPB: Other
WGTV, Atlanta WPBA, Atlanta
WXGA, Waycross/Valdosta
WVAN, Savannah
WABW, Albany
WNGH, Dalton
WCES, Augusta
WACS, Dawson/Americus
WJSP, Columbus
WMUM, Macon
TV stations in North Georgia, including Atlanta and Athens
WSB 2 (ABC)
WUVM-LP 4 (AZA)
WAGA 5 (Fox)
WGTV 8 (PBS)
WXIA 11 (NBC)
WPXA 14 (Ion)
WGGD-LD 15 (Daystar)
WYGA-CD 16 (SHOP-LC)
WPCH 17 (Ind)
WKSY-LD 21 (Ind)
WTBS-LD 26 (ESTRELLA)
WDWW-LD 28 (Ind)
WPBA 30 (PBS)
WGTA 32 (MeTV)
WANN-CD 32 (APG)
WUVG 34 (UNI)
WDTA-LD 35 (Daystar)
WATL 36 (MNTV)
WIGL-LD 38 (TCT)
WIRE-CD 40 (Info)
WTHC-LD 42 (Ind)
W45DX-D 45 (HSN2)
WGCL 46 (CBS)
WKTB-CD 47 (TLM)
WAGC-LD 51 (Info)
WATC 57 (Rel)
WHSG 63 (TBN)
WUPA 69 (CW)
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